As many artists deal with the ongoing issue of sexual assault, and opening up about their own past experiences with abuse, the hip hop artist Common, has come out with his own experience with childhood sexual. In his upcoming memoir the Chicago rapper discussed being triggered by the repressed memories of being molested by a family friend.
According to Common, the incident occurred while he was on a family trip to Cleveland, Ohio, with several family members and close family friends, including a member named “Brandon”(likely an alias). He explains that while in his aunt’s house, the two were forced to share a bed together, wherein Common was molested.
“At some point I felt Brandon’s hand on me,” he wrote in the memoir. “I pushed him away. I don’t remember saying a whole lot besides ‘No, no, no.’”
He later explained that although he tried to verbally push away his attacker, Brandon continued his assault, eventually performing an unnamed sexual act. This incident caused him deep shame at the time, and likely caused severe childhood trauma for the future musical artist.
“He kept saying ‘It’s okay, It’s okay,’ as he pulled down my shorts and molested me. After he stopped he kept asking me to perform it on him. I kept repeating ‘No’ and pushing him away,” the rapper wrote. “I felt a deep and sudden shame for what happened.”
Common says that he recalled the event after working with filmmaker Laura Dern on the film The Tale, which is about a journalist coming to terms with her own repressed memories of sexual assault. Working on the event served as a trigger moment for Common, who had tried to repress the memory for many years after the event.
“One day, while talking through the script with Laura, old memories surprisingly flashed in my mind,” he writes in his memoir. “I caught my breath and just kept looping the memories over and over, like rewinding an old VHS tape…I said ‘Laura, I think I was abused.’”
Old memories of repressed sexual trauma are common in victims of sexual abuse, especially when the events occurred during critical moment’s of a victim’s life such as childhood. Jim Hopper, a renowned psychiatrist, who serves as a part time instructor at Harvard Medical School’s psychiatry department, has studied these events for over two decades.
“Research evidence showing that it is not rare for people who were sexually abused in childhood to go for many years, even decades, without having (recognizable or explicit) memories of the abuse,” Dr. Hopped explains on his website. ” (People almost always have implicit memories of the abuse, that is, memories they did not realize were memories, for example physiological or emotional responses triggered by encountering things associated with the abuse, like being touched in a ce”rtain way). This body of work shows that claims to the contrary are contradicted by lots of scientific evidence.
Common’s memoir will be entitled Let Love Have The Last Word. Read a review of his live performance at the Hollywood Bowl here.
Photo Credit: Richard Saethang